Quake Shuffles B-School Deadlines

Schools will work with Asia applicants affected by last month's Taiwan earthquake. Plus, more part-time students, the "MBA President" mulls a library, and more

Internet disruptions caused by the Dec. 26 earthquake off the southern coast of Taiwan came at a bad time for many potential B-school applicants in East Asia, as the Round One application deadline for many top U.S. schools was quickly approaching. But several schools said this week that most applicants were apparently getting their applications in, and those that had lingering problems would be accommodated.

At MIT-Sloan, where the Round One deadline is Jan. 10, the admissions office will accept applications from those residing in areas in Asia that experienced Internet service disruptions due to the earthquake till 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 26. A spokeswoman said the school is currently in the process of getting this message out through multiple platforms to applicants in affected areas.

At Harvard Business School and Penn's Wharton School, where Round One deadlines are Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, respectively, admissions officers say they have been monitoring the situation in Asia but so far have not seen the need to grant any extensions. Other B-schools with upcoming January deadlines, including Stanford, Northwestern, Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon are evaluating extension requests on a case-by-case basis.

The earthquake—measured at magnitude 6.7 by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau and 7.1 by the U.S. Geological Survey—snapped undersea cables off Taiwan, cutting telecommunications across the region and leaving companies scrambling to reroute traffic through satellites and cables that were not damaged.

By the beginning of the New Year, most commercial Internet access had been restored in the affected areas, but residential users were still experiencing some delays as repairs to the cables continued.

More Part-Timers

Part-time MBA programs are ringing in the New Year with more students, and more big-time executives—such as former General Electric (GE) chief executive Jack Welch—in B-school classrooms as instructors. This is according to a new survey of MBA deans and program directors by Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business and the MBA for Working Professionals Affinity Group of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accrediting agency.

"Approximately 80% of today's MBA students are going to school part time. The cost of full-time studying, in forgone salary as well as tuition, is just too great for a lot of prospects to consider full-time programs," Robinson Dean H. Fenwick Huss said in a news release. For many, the bonus of keeping a salary while paying off hefty tuition (or having company sponsorship) makes part time very attractive.

Seventy percent of the 105 schools responding to the survey expect more executives to teach at B-schools over the next five years. Welch, for instance, taught a course based on his book Winning at MIT-Sloan. Though stringent requirements may impede the entry of executives into the classroom, 77% of deans say they would change the standards to allow execs to teach.

Other key findings: Top challenges, according to deans, are competition from online, local, and regional programs; keeping up curriculum with changing business needs; and honing students' attachment to the school. And more women are going to B-school—even while working. At 56%, enrollment of women at schools surveyed has increased (See BusinessWeek.com, 8/18/05, "Do Online MBAs Make the Grade?").

SMU Closer to Bush Library

George W. Bush, a 1975 graduate of Harvard Business School, has been famously noted as the nation's first MBA President. But it's Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and not Harvard, that is the leading site for Bush's Presidential library. On Dec. 21, the George W. Bush Presidential Library Site Selection Committee said it was beginning discussions with SMU on the library project. SMU is First Lady Laura Bush's alma mater.

RPI Hosts China Engineers

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lally School of Management & Technology created a custom executive education program for 19 senior managers from the China Three Gorges Project Corp., which is building one of the world's largest hydropower dams on China's Yangtze River. The project is expected to be completed in 2009.

In December, the managers completed four months at Rensselaer in Troy, N.Y. Combining its technical and business expertise, the school stressed leadership skills, emerging technology, innovation, and large-scale project management. RPI Dean David Gautschi said the program was the equivalent of one year in a traditional American MBA.

Gautschi said that in an age where every B-school dean must have a China strategy, much can be gained on both sides of the exchange. "In the end, the Chinese learned how to think like an American manager in the energy domain, and the Lally faculty learned how to interact with Chinese managers on the fast track," he said.

Asked about recent suggestions that Chinese business students don't necessarily perform as well as their Western counterparts (See BusinessWeek.com, 12/4/06, "China MBAs: Most Likely To Fall Short"), Gautschi said the Chinese had strong analytical skills and improved their modest inclinations to make decisions or take risk in the program.

The participants, who have worked on the world's largest and most controversial hydroelectric dam project, also visited U.S. hydroelectric dams, alternative-energy sites, and corporate headquarters, and made public presentations and managed simulated businesses.

B-Schools Gain Accreditation

Twelve business schools from five countries have international accreditation from AACSB. The 90-year-old group is the oldest and largest worldwide accrediting agency for undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting.

The new additions are: Delaware State University; University of North Carolina-Fayetteville State University; University of Glasgow (Britain); Institut Quimic de Sarria (Spain); National Chengchi University (Taiwan); North Carolina Central University; Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.; Siena College near Albany, N.Y.; University of Technology, Sydney (Australia); Utah Valley State College; Virginia State University; and West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

These 12 newbies bring the number of AACSB-accredited B-schools to 540, making up less than 10% of the world's business schools. The accreditation process can take from three to seven years.

B-School Briefs

Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management has appointed a new dean. The Cleveland B-school chose Mohan Reddy, the interim dean and Nancy & Joseph Keithley Professor of Management, to succeed Myron Roomkin, who stepped down in August.…London Business School will launch its Dubai-London Executive Education MBA program in September. It will be London's first branded program overseas. LBS faculty will teach the 16-month program, in which students will take core classes in Dubai for one year and electives at LBS's Regent's Park campus.…

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has given his name to a project to provide business-school educations to students from underdeveloped areas. The program is a joint initiative of Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium, Hogeschool Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the Public Advice International Foundation. The students, dubbed "Kofi Annan Fellows," will receive a free education in exchange for promising to return to their native countries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.